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Robert Caro Education. (2012) The 2012 National Book Festival Interview and call-in with Robert Caro, 'The Passage of Power The Years of Lyndon Johnson.' New.

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Lyndon Johnson 16, Iraq 8, Us 8, Mr. Caro 6, Afghanistan 5, Robert Caro 5, Texas 4, Washington 3, Margaret 2, Lbj 2, Sedona 1, Fiction 1, Paternalistic 1, Oregon 1, Honduras 1, Socio 1, Lawrence 1, Angels 1, California 1, Va 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Robert Caro  Education.  (2012) The 2012 National Book  
   Festival Interview and call-in with Robert Caro, 'The Passage of...  

    September 29, 2012
    5:15 - 6:00pm EDT  

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drive the kids to baseball games so they could have the debating team and baseball team like white kids. but the thing that got me. you could say that is just an example of lyndon johnson always trying to do the best job he could at whatever job he had and that is the character of johnson. i feel i know he really wanted to help because he didn't teach only the kids. he taught the janitor. the janitor's name was thomas coronado. johnson insisted he learned english. he brought a textbook and every day before and after school he and coronado would sit on the steps of a school and coronado says -- johnson would pronouns, i would repeat, johnson would spell and i would repeat. i think lyndon johnson cared about civil-rights. the second part of your question, how did he get kennedy -- it takes a lot of pages in
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this book to talk about all the things he does but the thing he does on the instant, this bill appears to be totally dead. he says didn't someone file a discharge petition? discharge petition had been filed -- this bill was in a committee that was never going to let it out. wasn't even the senate. still in the house rules committee which was shared by judge howard w. smith and would even give a date. the bill was going nowhere. johnson remembers someone filed a discharge petition to take away from that committee. that was -- a discharge petition ever -- never passed. violation of house rules and no president had ever gotten behind one before. johnson calls the representative who introduces it and representative of missouri has
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been told by the leaders dropped this thing and listen to johnson in this telephone call to see a genius in human nature because the first half of the call, we can't violate the house pre
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♪ >> this is book tv's live coverage of the national books s festival. you've been listening to lbj biographer talk about the fourth installment of the lbj bio. this is the passage of power. now, mr. caro will be working his way over to the set next to the history and biography tent w to take your calls.t numbers will be on the screen, 202 is the area code and if you have a question or reaction, 585-3885 for in -- we'll be heri
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just as soon as we can wrangle him from the big crowd. it was -- as you can see, as standing room only crowd in then history and biography tent, and as soon as we wrangle him here, we'll get him over here, located next to the history and biography tent. we'll begin taking those calls. now, next up in the history and biography tent in just a little while, you'll hear fromttle elizabeth doweling taylor, a slave in the white house, paul o jennings and the madisons.enni she'll be talking about the book. a slave of james madison -- that is coming up in history and biography 10 for the next couple of hours. we will be doing a call in with mr. caro in a few minutes and
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then tom friedman and michael mandel bomb will join us for a call in so you can talk to them. their best seller that used to the us will be after mr. >> if you are interested in other things if you are interte -- ast on booktv.org, on
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c-span to. we put up the numbers. if you have any reaction to what mr. caro had to say in his presentation. if you want to take a question while we are getting mr. caro ready we will write that down and get that question for him. mark in new jersey. you are on booktv. what is your comment or question for mr. caro. >> my question -- my comment first is three previous books about lyndon johnson were very entertaining and looking forward to the fourth. the question i want to ask his johnson's reaction to him being president after the assassination of kennedy. what was the reaction of the
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administration workers to johnson after kennedy got shot? and johnson after kennedy got shot. >> thanks so much. mr. caro has joined us. thank you for being on booktv. we appreciate it. that was mark in new jersey and he wanted to know what the reaction of the jfk administration officials were when lbj came into power. >> guest: good question. many of them when he was vice president treated johnson badly. he was cut out of power completely. he was humiliated by the kennedys time and again. they would reorganize the committee he was chairman of without even telling him. they referred to him as rufus corn pone. they thought he was a big loud politician. they also -- those of them who
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were honest about it more than a little afraid of him because they had seen him in the senate when he ruled the senate and could really get -- they knew the power he was and they were afraid if he got any they wouldn't be able to keep him on at least. johnson realized if his presidency was going to be successful he has to get them on his side and he says to them i need you more than he needed you. >> host: you said this book "the passage of power" covers 47 days only. >> guest: five years. it begins in 1958 and it goes through kennedy's and johnson's fight for the nomination and goes into how robert kennedy tried to remove johnson from the ticket and johnson's vice president see.
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47 days are reserved and covers the first forty-seven days of johnson's presidency. that is what i call "the passage of power". between kennedy's assassination on november 22nd, 1963, and johnson's first state of the union on jan. eighth 1964. >> host: tomorrow we have david meredith who is another presidential biographer talking about his book barack obama:the story. booktv we asked if he had a question for you and he had two and are want to read those. you seem to have a remarkable capacity to maintain your excitement and curiosity about a single subject over a longer period of time. first question. have you found that your excitement and curiosity about lbj has increased rather than diminished over the years? >> guest: terrific question. the answer is yes.
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as i have said, i regard these books as not being about lyndon johnson alone but being about political power and how it works in america. it is important that we understand how political power really works. to watch johnson use political power is to see the full potentiality of how can be used and for someone like me who is interested in political power you say that is fascinating. i am always say in what is he doing now? >> host: the second question have you ever been tempted to break off or do another book in between? if so what subject would that be? >> host: i haven't been tempted to do that. i am writing -- where i have been taking notes all along on what it is like to do these books, the power broker on robert moses -- moses would do anything to stop my book.
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there was a story i felt in the doing of that book and a story in the doing of the johnson book. i hope after i finish this book to write a study -- a story of hunting for power. >> host: robert caro is our guest and the next call is from d.c.. tyrone, good morning. >> i have enjoyed your books over a long period of time. it was great to hear your presentation. one question in particular. in trying to finish up your first original book you are trying to buy one specific secret service agents -- specifically what happened after mr. kennedy was assassinated and some of the other offerings done
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by other authors that suggested the secret service had not acted properly and in a timely manner and right now the notion subsequently the notes that were not accurately portrayed in terms of how they were handled by the white house at that time. >> guest: my answer to that is -- [inaudible] -- around lyndon johnson. >> host: your mike came off. if you could start your answer again. >> guest: i concentrated on the agents around lyndon johnson because of his trying to tell the story of the assassination from lyndon johnson's point of view. they acted magnificent lee. particularly rufus youngblood who was the first shot rings
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out, youngblood is in the front seat of the johnson car. he realized he sees president kennedy start to tilt to the left. he sees in the car in front of him a secret service agent rising up with a rifle in his hand and looking around and grabbed johnson's right shoulder and froze him on the floor and jumps over the front of the back to the back of the front and throws himself on johnson's back. johnson says i will never forget his elbows in my back and protects him with his own body and doesn't leave johnson's side for the next week. >> host: rinaldo from texas. you are on booktv on c-span2 with robert caro. >> caller: excellent book. on november 21st, 1963, the day before the murder of jfk with
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minden be johnson and richard nixon, the warren commission in that meeting, lbj tells madeleine brown after tomorrow the kennedys will never embarrass me again. that is the promise. >> guest: lyndon johnson was never at the meeting you are talking about. all the times i was working -- i have been working on lyndon johnson going through any kind of his papers and diaries and letters talking to everybody who knew him i have never found a single hinge that in and johnson had anything to do with the assassination. >> host: do you find yourself answering conspiracy questions regularly? >> guest: yes. yes. my only answer is the answer i
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gave. i would pursue anything that i found. >> guest: >> host: a viewer wanted to do about valid stocks 13. what kind of question is that? >> guest: the ballot box with which lyndon johnson's old reelection. six days after running for the senate in 1948, six day after the election he is still behind. suddenly a ballot box from precinct, found in the desert. it contains a number of votes. if i have this right 2 in hundred two votes. interesting votes because they are written in the same handwriting. they are all written with the same pen and then you had a
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register book in texas and these 202 voted in alphabetical order. those 202 votes were the crucial votes where johnson emerged as the winner by 87 votes. i remember one of his aides said it wasn't for that box we wouldn't have a great society. we wouldn't have had vietnam. american history might have been different. people are always saying when they're stealing elections in texas which is true. johnson bent those rules and pushed the envelope further than ever before to get to the senate. when i started these books everyone said we never really know lyndon johnson stole that election and i am never writing about lyndon johnson's life unless i have done everything i could to find out whether he did still the election.
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i did manage to find the very election judge, the guy who ran, ballot box, and the mexican sort of enforcer for the border county boss who ran the elections named george he told me the story. .. >> caller: it's a bend of theu
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rules, i think. did you know that? i never heard that before.e. >> host: glenn, you say lbj gave a million a year to the school? g well, it was through the government i presume, bute because of him, he was the one that gave a million dollars for 18 years, $250,000 to each the0o schools, and he gave them instructions you can't do d anything. you can't change anything. let the teachers do it, and there was, you know, it was the best -- became the best school in the united states because like over 40 children every single year passed the college test, and the girls from the classroom got a doctoral degree. >> host: is that a new story? >> guest: that's fascinating. go look that. thanks for telling me about that. >> host: barbara, austin texas, home the lbj library, hi, barbara.
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>> caller: hi, i hope you can hear my. i think my phone's acting up. >> host: we can hear you fine. >> caller: i admire the historian, will go down in history as a great historian. i want to thank you for all the details we never knew before. i'm wondering about the johnson daughters and how they learned their father would be president, how den di died. did you look into that >> guest: yes. he was at the university of texas, and as i recall, i may have it wrong, she was a secret service agent -- came up, notified her of what happened, and i think she went with them to the home of the conley, john con le's children, conley was the governor of texas. he was wounded. no one knew how seriously at the
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time, and she went to comfort them. lucy bird was in high school in washington, and if i have this right, she was taken out of class and brought back to the johnson home in washington. >> host: next call for robert caro, cici in portland, oregon. hi. >> caller: hi. i enjoyed your talk. one of the conversations in the talk was about the seven democrats, and i wondered if you could elaborate on the movement towards the republican party after the passage of the civil rights. all of us heard about johnson's quote, i think i just lost the south permanently, the democratic party has, and so i was wondering, then, if you could talk about -- if he, as a political practices, knew that through the passage of the civil rights bills that the south
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would be lost from the democratic party permanently or, you know, prior to it actually happening and how he was trying to get the bill passed, and he realized that vote would be lost at that time, do you think? >> guest: you have the call almost right. he said i don't think we lost the south to the republican party, but he said, we just handed the south to the republican party for the next 40 years. johnson always had a desire to help poor people, people of color. when he becomes president -- i talked in the talk how he had that even as he was teaching mexican children while he was taking time off from college when he was like, 20 years old, and when he becomes president, you know, the first night he's president, or, in fact, that's wrong, the second night. he's writing the speech to congress, and they write four or
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five of the advisers, around the kitchen table in the home in washington, and they are all advising him not to make civil rights a key issue because you can't win. the democrats in congress are too strong. it's a lost cause. it may be a noble cause, but it's a lost cause. don't spend political capital on this cause. lyndon johnson looks at them and says, "well what the hell is the president's see for them?" he starts immediately in the speech that our number one priority is civil rights issue and to watch him push the bill through, of course, is to see political genius in action. sometimes you wonder if we would have a civil rights bill today if lyndon johnson was not president then. you know, if i can just add one thing to it. other people wonder how sincere he is. one of them -- one of kennedy's aides and speech writer, a
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brilliant man, and goodwin raises some question similar to yours with johnson, and johnson says your know, years ago when i was teaching the kids, i swore if i ever had the power to help them, i was going to use it. now i have the power, and i'll tell you a secret -- i mean to use it. >> host: "passage of power" is the name of the most recent volume on lbj, and as robert writes in the book -- >> guest: thank you. >> host: about the publisher, sunny mada never asked him when his next volume will be due, but we'll ask him that question here on booktv. when is the next volume? >> guest: well, peter, i can give you an answer, but three or four years, but why would you believe me? >> host: next call, louis in sedona, arizona. hi, louis. >> guest: hi. c-span: --
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>> caller: mr. caro, i'm an 89-year-old retired psychoanalyst and sigh cowlings. you learned a great deal about the way in which certain techniques used by the president could influence congress. if president obama called you to the white house and sat with you and asked you, given my -- i'll make believe president obama, given my different personality from president johnson's, what do you think i would have to do in order to affect congress with some of the same powers that president johnson did. >> guest: well, that's a good question. let me say, first, that i wouldn't really answer it because what i learned in doing
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these books is you don't really know what's happens behind the scenes unless you do the research on it, and i have not done the research on this. the second thing, you know, i would like to say i think president obama has some achievements with congress that he's not giving enough credit for. i think when history looks back, says that 30-plus million people ran into the health insurance rolls through his health insurance bill, that's going to be quite a change, quite a, you know, martin luther king said the moral law of the universe bends slowly, but it bends towards justice. eng there was a bending towards justice. there are things wrong with the health care bill, but you know what johnson would have said? he said that about the civil rights bill, a flawed bill. he said the important thing is to pass it. once you pass it, it's easy to go back and fix it.
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>> host: next caller from georgia. good morning to you. >> caller: good morning. thank you for the distinguished work for us all. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: yes. i wonder if you came across things in your research that suggested president johnson experienced moral compunction about the behavior at some point. it's striking he's so on the spot with the angels with civil rights and other important issues, but so unscrupulous in accomplishing those wonderful goalsment thank you. >> guest: well, that's another really terrific question. you are talking about ends and means. the ends is noble. medicare, lyndon johnson said it's the job of government to take care of the bent and the ill. the bent means the old, the
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aged. his methods are route -- ruth ruthless, cruel, and sometimes hard to write about. the life of johnson, the means he used to accomplish them are really an examination of the relationship between ends and means. it's not a simple answer to it. >> host: and we are talking here with robert caro at the national book festival. in april, the years of lyndon johnson, passage of power came out, the fourth in the series on lbj, and the next call for him comes from don in new haven, connecticut. don, you're on booktv. >> caller: thanks. hi, mr. chairman caro. it's a pleasure to talk to you. >> guest: hello. >> caller: quick question. would we have medicare and medicaid today if not for johnson? >> guest: i'll say ton that
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particular -- i'll say on that particular question, that's really a major thing i examined in the book i'm writing now, and i have not done -- i have not finished it. i have not even finished the think completely on it so i'm not going to go into detail, but i say to watch him ram medicare and medicaid through congress, through a congress that didn't want it. i mean, really is to watch, as i said before, political genius in action, and you say he accomplished things, and you wonder could any president have accomplished that after him? >> host: if you need more of robert caro. he did a two hour "q&a" in april of this year. go to c-span.org, search function, type in his name, and you can watch both hours from "q&a," and now the last call is
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from margaret in orange county, california. margaret, plead go ahead. margaret, we're listening. i think march -- margaret is gone. >> guest: i'll say two hours of robert caro is more than enough. >> host: robert has been our guest here on booktv at the national book festival. it's "the passage of power". what's the time frame this volume covers? >> guest: starts in 1958 when johnson starts to run for the presidency, and it ends on january 8th, 1964 with his first state of the union speech so about five
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>> host: war happens to people one by one. what's that mean? >> guest: i was struck by the quote because i was following the war home to the half of every individual fighter, which is a phrase i'm quoting from dh lawrence, and war does affect every single individual involvedded in it whether they be soldiers or civilians. it has -- it's a monster that reaches deep inside every single person, and turns every life updied down, and i thought it was an apt quote. >> host: how many women served in the iraq war? >> guest: over 200,000 served in iraq and afghanistan.
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>> host: americans? >> guest: yeah. >> host: is that unusual? >> guest: yes. the iraq war in particular set a precedent historically. more women served, were wounded, and killed in the iraq war by around 2005 into the war already than all the wars all poult to the. one in ten troops was a woman. >> host: because of the nature of the war -- >> guest: basically a guerrilla war, there's not any front line. drawing a line in the sand, and the enemy side should meet up and fight. that doesn't happen anymore. battles take place, end roads, hospitals, and even if you drive
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a truck full of toilet paper you can be attacked. because there's no front line, even if you're combat support or you're an engineer or a cook, you can get drawn into battle, and many, many women also were used as gunners working alongside with the infantry doing the same jobs as the infantry because of the shortage of troops. >> host: women are not supposed to serve in combat, are they? >> guest: right. on the ground, and in reality, women have been fighting in combat in iraq and afghanistan for ten years. >> host: was there a typical experience for women in iraq and afghanistan for american soldiers? >> guest: it's hard to say typical because it really did vary depended on the year they were serving, where they were serving, and who they were serving with.
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the stories i did hear were the most common of story i heard were ones of isolation, because one in ten toons are women, they are not necessarily deployed together, so many women serve with a small number of other women, vastly outnumbered by men, sometimes even alone. i've talked to women who are the only ones serving with 60 men. the isolation of serving like that can lead to a lot of problems from harassment and loneliness to sexual assault and rain, and i did hear a great deal more of those stories than i expected when i started the research. >> host: that's a common theme -- harassment, sexual assault. >> guest: it is. >> host: who is on the cover? >> guest: in the military 22 years by the time she was
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deployed to iraq. she was a sergeant, first class, had been a drill sergeant as well. she served in honduras and at home and just really had a long career behind her and was very enthusiastic about the army, and she got sent to iraq. iraq was a whole different experience for her, partly because of the racism she experienced and because of the -- i would say discrimination racially and sexually that she experienced. also because of the nature of the war itself which she ended upturning against. now, i'm not saying this is typical of every soldier, but that's another thing i heard from more soldiers than i expected was a great deal of criticism about the war. based on what they were seeing, on the ground, unlike what we hear about at home. >> host: professor benedict, how did you find the five women
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you focus on in the book? >> guest: i interviewed over 40 women who served in iraq over three years. i found through veterans' groups mainly, one led me to another, whom she'd serve with, who led me to others, and so partly it was a network, networking process, and partly, it was people hearing there was some writing about women in the military, and they wanted to be included. the women came to me. they were thought invisible, risking life and limb like men, but not recognized like real soldiers or taken seriously. they wanted their service to be recognized, and others wants to whistle blow on the degradation they experienced. over the 40, i picked five in the hopes of finding a representation of economical range and also socio,
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geographical, range, attitudes, tried to get a range so it was a fair book. >> so the outliers in your research here would be those who continue to support the war and were not harassed? >> guest: well, they -- >> host: [inaudible] >> guest: some surveys show 99% of women are harassed while serving. the outliers are the ones not harass the. when it comes to sexual assault and rape, it's between one and five and win in three. it's a horrendous figure. these are figures from surveys conducted by the va, the department of veterans affairs, and the military itself, by the way, so -- but they are still fewer than the ones not raped. i give stats in the book, but the numbers are so horrific that i felt it was really important to focus on this because other
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books were not and hasn't. people were not aware of the degree to which we are hurting our own soldiers. >> host: is this a typical book for a journalism professor to write? >> guest: well, in our journalism school, we are working journalists, and a lot of us do in-depth invest good faithive reporting -- investigative reporting, but we have academics among us, but we are working journalists who teach. that's been the profile of the school since it was founded. >> host: have policies changed because of the experience of women in iraq and afghanistan? >> guest: yes, there have. there's been many congressional hearings about the issues of harassment, and i've testified twice to congress myself. they have changed some rules and policies and approaches and introduced more prevention training, sexual assault counselors have been made vain
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for women and men because sexual assault is a huge problem for men as well in the military, and there have been reforms, but we still have a long way to go. the rapes and sexual assaults are not dropping. the prosecution rates within the military justice system are scandalously low. there's a long way to go. congress has been pressing the military to do something about this for many years now, and the military has been extremely slow to respond in a really productive way. there's a lot of denial been going on. >> host: should women be allowed to serve in combat? >> guest: yes. we are human beings. we have a right to have whatever jobs we want. not all of us will choose that job or want to be in combat, but not all men want to be in combat either. it's very paternalistic to deny women a chance at a job just because of their gender, and,
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indeed, there's a suit going on right now that the "new york times" wrote about this very morning in an editorial on behalf of two women, officers, who are suing claiming that it's unconstitutional to bar women from combat because it denies equal protection under the law. >> host: now, you wrote a novel called "sand queen." >> guest: i did. >> host: what is the book? >> guest: it's the same research, i'm writing a book on the iraq war, fiction and non-fiction combined. it is a story of a woman soldier in iraq. she's guarding the first prisoner of war camp we sent up there, and it goes back and forth between her story, her experience as a woman soldier, and the story of an iraqi civilian woman. they meet at a check point, and they begin to interact.
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this is based on things my soldiers had experienced, and so that you get to see the war from both the iraqi and the american pointed view, but told through the eyes of women, a rare way to tell stories of war. >> host: when you look back at the media coverage of the iraq war and currently the afghanistan war, do you feel that it's been fair? do you think it's been comprehensive? >> guest: depends which nation's media you are asking about. >> host: u.s.. >> guest: i think we did a bad job at the beginning of the war as has been universally acknowledged. we were too blinded by reactions to 9/11, and we did not face -- we did not question the reasons for going into iraq enough. we accepted it at face value the things we were told. we did not dig deep enough and persisted to ignore the iraqi
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side to a shocking degree. in fact, to find out what was really going on in iraq during the war, i turned to british and french journalists. people who covered iraq since the 1970 #s, spoke arabic, knew the area. we have a few, but not enough. of course, we also had a certain amount of censorship in the allowed to show the bodies of soldiers coming home or the coffins rather, not getting true numbers of the dead on either side or a good enough idea of the chaos. i would have to be critical actually about it, but i am generalizing, and there's been individual reporters who did an incredible job covers the war and other problems in the middle east, and i'd pay tribute to
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him, a splendid reporter in the region, may he rest in peace. >> host: have you written about war previously or just this war that grabbed you? >> guest: a little about world war ii, in novels though, but i've never written about combat and war on the ground the way i have here. this is new for me, which is why it took me a few years to do a lot of research and many, many interviews to really absorb what it's like. i went and just wanted to know what is it like to be a woman soldier in combat, and why do you do it? those are my original questions, and then i found out a whole lot more. >> host: the lonely soldiers private war of women serving in iraq, and she's the author of this novel "sand queen" based on the same research, a novel. helen benedict joined us here at
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columbia university. here's a look at books being published this week:
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..